Words by Elie Gordon
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRAYLEN DION
Throughout history the media has painted Black narratives as monoliths of culture and identity. Yet, in reality, the Black experience is complex and diverse. Photographer Braylen Dion is breaking down Black stereotypes by bringing nature into human stories.
Atlanta-based photographer Braylen Dion takes inspiration from music and film; records he’s listening to at the moment, for example, inform his photography. And artistic features from his latest muses—Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Oscar-winning Moonlight—filter into his creative process.
By showcasing Black people in ethereal environments, Dion’s work aims to renew the representation of Black people in media by personifying intimacy and softness. Breathing life into everyday narratives and entwining his subjects with nature, he connects his audience to the reality of being Black in America.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw a lot of my inspiration for my photography from music. I imagine myself more as a director, so I visualize whatever I’m listening to at the moment as a music video. Photography is much easier than producing a video, though, so I can translate the ideas into a photoshoot with no problem!
What message do you want people to take from your photography?
Black is beautiful.
How important is incorporating nature into your work?
Incorporating nature in my photography is super important to me because it looks pretty but feels real. Most of my work is in nature, whether it’s in an open field, garden, or at homes with trees and bushes. It brings me a sense of peace being there, and I can see that in the final images.
What’s the importance of centering human stories in your photography?
The ultimate driving force behind my work is capturing Black stories. We all have very similar—but also very different—upbringings and things about ourselves, no matter where we are in the diaspora.